Jessica’s Journey: Dreaming of Mexico

tequila tour, Dreaming of MexicoI have been reading a lot lately about a new tequila tour being offered by the Four Season’s Hotel and Resort in Punta Mita. I wrote about it in my own personal blog and while I expounded on the tour itself I did not go into detail about the beach resort and I should have. However in the days since, I have moved away in thought from Punta Mita and gone somewhere else.

As the winter begins to take over the brief period of Autumn I light the fire in my office, pull up a chair and set out my snifter of Anejo. I would tell you what I am drinking but I am not yet allowed. I can tell you its seven year aged and it is very, very smooth.

[Tweet “New tequila tour at the Four Season’s Hotel & Resort in Punta Mita @FSPuntaMita”]

autumn, colorado, Dreaming of MexicoThe sun is setting over the Rockies to the west and casts shadows in the valley toward Kansas to the east. The aspen leaves have all turned their hues of yellows and oranges and most have shuddered their last leaves while the maple trees turn their brilliant reds and cinnamons and soon too will flutter to the ground. The air smells of pine and a new crisp, clear flavor lingers.  I dread the onset of the winter season and the bleak snow. I dread the cold that settles in and the effort it takes to get dressed and go out the front door. I hate the idea that soon the coyotes will stop baying with the moon and go quiet and the birds will emerge only for a few hours a day. I dread the barren trees and the grey sky and the abyss of white.

tulum, Dreaming of MexicoTo soothe my restless cold spirit I begin to think of warmer climates and sun and beach. I dream of places south of the border in the Gulf of Mexico where minimum dress code is enforced and my tan never fades. I begin to think of who I might visit again and which friends and family will have me this winter. And this winter, it’s decided. Cancun.

I love the diversity of the area of Cancun. While the beach resorts are great, housing phenomenal amenities and services and offering 4 through 6 star accommodations throughout the destination there are smaller, quaint ideals for this girl, and an atmosphere all together slower paced.

[Tweet “Villa Albatros: luxurious villa on a private beach in Cancun”]

 

villa albatross, villa albatros, Dreaming of Mexico

 

Villa Albatros calls Cancun home. A luxurious and beautiful villa right on its own private beach and water front is the best of the best in my opinion in Cancun.

cancun-albatroz-rooms15Tastefully appointed, Villa Albatross is a hacienda style villa with a main gated door within a retaining wall, to a lush entry garden. Within the main foyer is a large seating area that welcomes guests in textiles and hues that life the senses and beg for relaxation.

This stylish and luxurious hide-away boutique experience offers waterfront rooms, with luxury linens and beautifully ornate traditional Mexican furnishings. The entire villa faces out to the cerulean water for optimum views from any bed in any room of the house. Each has a private bath and each has its own character in luxury.

What makes this particular Villa the ultimate in luxury experiences is the service. Beyond the appointments and luxurious details throughout the villa, is the standard of excellence and service that is bar none the best I have seen anywhere.

Run by a partnership Robert and Andre’ respectively come from hospitality and service backgrounds that boast credentials of the best in class, The Ritz Carlton Corporation. Having achieved the hospitality education and standard of service of a lifetime they took this standard and applied it to Villa Albatross.

albatross1Their onsite chef is a culinary artist in every facet from menu concept to pairings. The service staff is on hand and on call to cater to every need, desire or whim. The service and product is beyond exemplary and this home is available either exclusively for one large party or by “habitacion” and availability.

I have had the pleasure of introducing extraordinary tequila’s to this lovely hacienda, and I can tell you based on experience their tequila menu is extensive and well informed. However I am sure that were you to desire anything special in tequila or spirits and they didn’t have it, this team would make sure it was there and ready upon your arrival. It is a World Class Experience at Villa Albatross.

In addition to the boutique villa experience, my visits to Cancun tend to take me well out of the tourist zones and further up the coast to remote beaches full of “Palapas” and hammocks meant for lounging all afternoon.

[Tweet “You’ll never run out of beaches in Tulum @todotulum”]

White Sandy beaches line the coast off the Yucatan and you can drive for miles and miles and it seems you never run out of beach. One of my favorite stops is Tulum. A little bitty pit stop, blink and you miss it, kind of place, Tulum is a surfers and beach bums paradise. Condos every here and there sprinkled about are tucked behind lush palm trees and green fern. Tucked up to the beach. There they are, out of nowhere. And behind them on the beach, usually a beach hut of a bar. Operated by one guy with swings rigged for bar stools and maybe an occupancy at the bar for a total of six. The beer is ice cold, the tequila off the hook and usually the fare is the fresh catch of the day including fresh grilled sea tortoise tacos! I have eaten them. Tastes like pollo!

The whole lunch with the beer? Maybe seventy pesos. That’s an exchange of $13.00 USD to one, you do the math. For that you cannot get a Happy Meal with a side of cardiac arrest in the states! And let’s be honest, on a scale of one to ten, the health meter on that lunch is off the scale. I always tend to lose weight when in Mexico. I eat so much healthier.

This entire Yucatan region of Mexico is technically in the rain forest. The climate is very humid and the air is sometimes chewy, for lack of a better expression. While my native friends complain of the damage the climate has on their clothes and linens, as mildew grows very quickly in this climate, the benefit if you are a nature lover is the accessibility to the natural habitats of the wildlife that exists within the tropical rain forest. It is extraordinary from the size of the bugs to the fresh water bat caves called “Cenotes”. These are grottos that hold cold fresh water year round under the earth.

There are innumerable exhibition areas that offer passes to controlled parks by the tourism board offering tours of the rainforest, swimming with dolphins, cave diving, zip lining under the canopy, and hand to hand exposure to monkeys, parrots and wildlife one might not otherwise see or experience. These attractions are the pride of the state as much has been invested in the renovation and preservation of the exhibit and park.

Home of the Aztecs and the source of Cowboy pride in the Yucatan, the charreada sister city to Guadalajara is Cancun. Many descendants of the pride of the Charro’s live today in the Cancun Merida areas and ranching and horsemanship is a way of life, steeped deep in tradition and sportsmanship.

charro1This year Cancun is getting a very exciting destination addition, Hacienda Isabel.  Slated to open the first week of November, Hacienda Isabel is the labor of love of the Charreada Society of Cowboys in Cancun. Funded by one of the most notorious charro’s in all of Mexico this exhibition center will offer the glory and athleticism of the charro, including showcase the love, trust and loyalty between man and horse and the romance of the time honored traditions of the charreada.

Part of Hacienda Isabel includes a restaurant which will serve the best of the local fare and some of the ranchero or charro favorites of the region and will be sponsored exclusively by one exceptional tequila to be announced. Hacienda Isabel is centrally located in the tourist district of Cancun and easily accessed via any concierge desk to book your reservation.

“Sunsets” in Cancun is ultimately the place to spend the evening. Sitting above the harbor of Cancun and of course a backdrop of a wall of glass, I will order a wonderful tequila, from the extensive list, and sit and swill while I witness the epically beautiful sunset that paints an extraordinary picture over Cancun every night.  I will watch the boats come in and go out of the harbor, as they raise sails and cinch them. I will watch the sun glisten and reflect off the water as it sets, in the same brilliance my anejo will reflect in my Riedel snifter, and I will watch the waves rise and fall with the same impressions of the crown left cascading down the inside of my glass after I have swirled it in my hand.

[Tweet “Cancun isn’t just for spring break anymore”]

sunset2There is a great deal more to Cancun than the tourist highlights of spring break. There is an entirely different side to this destination yet unknown. There are gourmet chocolate restaurants in which every single menu item either savory or sweet is made with the rich cocoa of the region. The influence being the Aztec Indians. Every menu item suggests either a wine or a tequila pairing.

There are wine bars that have wine menus that take you quite literally around the world in thousands upon thousands of bottles. There are upscale luxury shopping malls that house retailers known around the world such as Coach, Louis Vuitton and Prada. There are upscale luxury services and experiences that take your breath away and leave even the rich and famous speechless.

[Tweet “Dreaming of Mexico as the snow falls in Colorado”]

For myself, Cancun is home in many respects. I have family there and friends that I look forward to seeing when I visit. We catch up and spend quality time together. We enjoy one another and reminisce of times past and great experiences and we always do it over a bottle or ten of the newest favorite on my list. It is how it is done in Mexico. Everything, especially friends, goes best with a great tequila.

snowThe last product I took to Cancun had one bottle withheld to send as a gift to the Governor of the State for his birthday. He loved it so much, he ordered his own pallet to have in his cellar. That is a good day’s work when the juice is so good all it took was a sip to sell 56 cases!

The snow floats by the window in silence as it begins to quietly fall under the lamplight outside. The air much colder now than it was when I began writing this, and my snifter nearly empty. It is eerily silent and the cold creeps deep into my bones. I open Expedia and type in “Denver to Cancun”.

 
 

jessica Arent, Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyJessica Arent has spent her career steeped in the Hispanic culture. Passionate about the Latin culture and experiencing roles that have taken her from television to digital marketing throughout the United States and Mexico, Jessica’s passion for Mexico runs in her blood. An accomplished writer, Mexico is where her heart lives and is the focus of her work and writing.  Specializing in marketing Hispanic based products and services, Jessica will tell you there are few people in the world or places she has traveled, from Asia to Europe and in between, who compare to the Mexican culture.  Building websites such as ALL ABOUT MEXICO and fostering the marketing endeavors of a number of tequila products, to name a few, Jessica sets out to inspire the world around her, one person, one relationship at a time, to know and understand the culture she calls home.  Jessica is a partner at Intermountain Media, LLC, the Communications and Media Director of Terra Energy Resources Corp, and shares other travel and tequila adventures on her blog, Jessica’s Mexico.

Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.



A Truckload of Agave – Agave Spirits, That Is

Agave Spirits Everywhere!

Agave piñas.

Agave piñas, agave spirits

 

 

If you’ve been following Tequila Aficionado Media closely, you may have noticed a lull in the weekly Sipping Off The Cuff ™  episodes that traditionally have aired every Friday.

As you may know, every tequila, mezcal or sotol label that submits samples for Sipping Off The Cuff ™ is automatically entered into our ground-breaking end-of-year Brands of Promise ™ awards program.

 

We’ve Got Our Work Cut Out for Us 

test pattern, agave spirits, tequilaAfter an unprecedented amount of entries to our Brands of Promise ™  awards, and the flabbergasting influx of new tequila and mezcal brands with fabulous juice in 2014 (and some unforeseen technical difficulties in our post production department that were beyond our control), Sipping Off The Cuff ™ returns with a vengeance.

 

Coming In Hot

agave spirits, tequilaStarting this week, our post production department is backing up the truck and dumping a huge load of agave onto your screens.

Until virtually the end of 2014, brand-spanking new episodes of Sipping Off The Cuff ™ will premier–

Daily!

tequila reviews, agave spiritsLook for your favorite–or start up or little known–tequila or mezcal brands to be deconstructed, dissected and discussed by our Founder, Alex Perez, and CEO Mike Morales.

Plus…

We’re planning some surprise guest hosts to star with Mike on special episodes of Sipping Off The Cuff ™ that will be taped from some of the more popular and trendy tequila bars around the country.

Sipping Off The Cuff ™–On Demand!

 

Fast and Furious, agave spiritsDon’t worry if you miss a chapter or two of these upcoming reviews with Alex and Mike.

They’ll be coming in fast and furious till the end of the year, but you can always catch up by subscribing to our YouTube channel, as well as following TequilaAficionado.com’s Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.

And if you haven’t done so, take a moment to subscribe to our newsletter and be assured of never missing the latest tequila scuttlebutt, event, or feature story.

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

 

 

Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.


Monterey Bay Tequila Fest Winners Announced

The Monterey Bay Tequila and Cuisine Festival has announced the winners of their 2014 blind tasting.

monterey bay

Blind tastings were conducted over the past month by judges from around the country and compiled using the Tequila Matchmaker App.  Following are the winners of the Monterey Bay Tequila and Cuisine Festival:

fortaleza, Monterey Bay TequilaBlanco Winners

Platinum = Fortaleza

Gold = Don Nacho

Silver = Revolucion

Bronze = Mi Casa Tequila

Reposado Winners

Platinum = Fortaleza

Gold = Don Nacho

Silver = Don Nacho

Bronze = El Jefe

don pilar, tequila, nom list, tequila brands, Monterey Bay TequilaAnejo Winners

Platinum = Don Pilar

Gold = Fortaleza

Silver = tie between Alquimia & Don Valente

Bronze = Don Nacho

 

Extra Anejo Winners

Platinum = Revolucion

Gold = Don Pilar

Silver = Alquimia

Congratulations to all of the winners!

spirits of mexico, 2013, rick levy, Monterey Bay Tequila

 

Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.


Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant–It’s In The Blood

2014-08-22 19.57.43Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant’s humble beginning exemplifies the meaning of the Latino American Dream. 

Voted a Reader’s Choice award for Best Mexican Restaurant in 2014 by the Wichita Eagle, the family owned chain has been in business for nearly 50 years pioneering its style of Mexican cuisine and feeding generations of families in Wichita, Kansas. 

On a bustling and muggy Friday night in late August 2014, Tequila Aficionado Media was invited to meet with the proprietors of Felipe’s, the Lujano family, at the northeast Wichita location of their four venues.  

[Tweet “Review of Felipe’s – 50 Years of Mexican cuisine in Wichita, KS”]

Family Is Everything

Felipe's logo.

 2014-08-22 20.59.43It is the family patriarch, Don Roberto Lujano, who captures all the attention.

Strolling through the clean and brightly decorated restaurant, Don Roberto, brother of the deceased Felipe for whom the restaurants are named, visits every table to shake hands with his regulars.  He responds with a wide grin and a kind word as people of every race, creed and color call him Papa.2014-08-22 20.58.13

In the next two clips, Don Roberto’s son, Miguel Lujano, manager of the northeast restaurant on Woodlawn Blvd., recounts Felipe’s vast history as the first establishment to introduce Mexican cuisine to Wichita in 1967.

Think You’ve Tasted It All?

I’ve ingested just about every single style of Mexican food.  From glitzy chain restaurants with signature tropical fruit-based tequila drinks, to hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop diners that serve handmade tortillas and guacamole, I truthfully thought I had tasted it all.

2014-08-22 20.20.01

[Tweet “Mike Morales sits down for a meal and a chat at Felipe’s Restaurant”]

Not the usual “gringofied” spicy Mexican food that is served in the corporate-owned eateries, Felipe’s relies heavily on a medley of traditional herbs, spices, and heirloom family recipes.  Still, they are not without its own unique cuisine challenges as Miguel Lujano explains…

Mild vs. Hot 

2014-08-22 21.12.04With the influx of more Mexican and Mexican Americans into Wichita establishing diners of their own, Felipe’s continues to find ways to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack.

Noting that their customer base is trending toward more spicy hot ingredients, the Lujano family has taken advantage of this turnabout by adding some picante to their signature dishes.  Don Roberto Lujano and his wife, Maria Teresa, still cook in the kitchen with most dishes made from scratch.

And in a state whose liquor is controlled (state run), the task of obtaining more authentic tequilas for Felipe’s emblematic cocktails can be even more challenging, especially when competing restaurants plagiarize them for their own menus.  The secret, Miguel Lujano insists, is educating their customers.

Maestro Dobel Special Edition

Maestro Dobel Special Edition

Felipe's Special Edition selection.

Felipe’s Special Edition selection.

Miguel admitted that it also helps to be friendly with representatives from Glazer’s and Standard Beverage Corporation, liquor distributors who share his passion for tequila.  Through his relationships, Felipe’s has been able to acquire such sought after tequilas as Suerte, Siete Leguas, Demetrio, George Clooney’s Casamigos, and participate in Maestro Dobel’s Special Edition program.

[Tweet “Distributors & Restaurants working to bring the consumer the tequila they want “]2014-08-22 22.53.24

[Tweet “Felipe’s Restaurants: Possibly the best tequila selection in Kansas?”]

 

Craving Felipe’s

Here, Miguel Lujano explains how Felipe’s is so artful at getting their customers to crave their cooking and cocktails.

Three Keys To Success

Miguel Lujano shares his father’s three keys to a successful Mexican restaurant.

[Tweet “Felipe’s Restaurant 3 Keys to Success”]

In The Blood

In a city that has seen its Hispanic population boom from a scattering few in 1967 to close to 60,000 strong in 2014, Felipe’s has actively enticed the unpredictable tastes of its community over the decades.  But, what keeps the Lujano family passionately pushing the limits of their traditional fare?

Simply put–

It’s in their blood.

***

Enjoy this Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita…

[Tweet “Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita”]

Felipe's signature recipe for homemade sangrita.

Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita.

 

2014-08-22 22.26.35

and Miguel’s signature Margarita.

[Tweet “Felipe’s: Reader’s Choice award for Best Mexican Restaurant in 2014″]

Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.


DIY With Empty Tequila Bottles

Recycle or Upcycle?

hummingbird feederwind chimeIf you’re anything like us, you’ve got a ridiculous collection of empty tequila bottles that you just don’t want to throw away.  Either the tequila was so delightful, you shared it with friends on a special occasion, the bottles are too beautiful or you just want a library of the tequilas you’ve enjoyed.  Whatever your reason for not wanting to part with your empty tequila bottles, eventually you come up against the age old question “Where do I put them all?”

 

Well, thanks to Jessica sharing a great hummingbird feeder idea on her blog, Jessica’s Mexico, we’ve put together a Pinterest Board of that and several other projects and kits from around the web that can be put to use with some of your favorite tequila bottles for some creative upcycling.

[Tweet “Hummingbird feeder from a tequila bottle? Yes!”]

Creative Upcycling of Tequila Bottles

wet_6soap dispenserHere are just a few examples of the great Do-It-Yourself projects that we’ve pinned.  Click on any of the images to visit the board and see all of them.

Some bottles are so beautiful, you want to see them every day.  So why not make a soap dispenser for the bathroom?  A Whispering Eye Tequila bottle would make a lovely addition to any ladies bath.

[Tweet “Tequila bottle soap dispenser – easy to make!”]

Tequila Bottle Lighting

 

oil lamps

How about an oil lamp kit for some romantic dining?

Simple votives

A simple way to create votive holders for patio lighting.

 

hanging lamps

Any size or shape can be used for hanging lamps. Pick your favorites and mix them up!

 

line of lights

For some fantastic lighting behind a bar, try a row of hanging tequila bottle lamps.

[Tweet “Tequila bottle lighting – easy weekend projects!”]

christmas tree

For the best Christmas of all, find someone handy with metals and create this festive bottle Christmas tree frame.





Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.